Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : More rigorous checks for fire and rescue employees [April 2023]

The press release issued by the Home Office on 25 April 2023.

Fire and rescue authorities will be able to carry out stringent new record checks, helping fire and rescue services protect the public and their staff.

Fire and rescue authorities will be able to carry out a new level of criminal record checks for all employees, helping drive up standards and protect the public and fellow staff, under new plans announced by the government.

Currently staff are only automatically eligible for basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, however, legislation introduced yesterday (24 April 2023) will, when passed, mean all staff will be eligible for more rigorous standard DBS checks. Basic DBS checks only provide information on unspent cautions and unspent convictions, whereas standard DBS checks also provide information on spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, subject to filtering rules.

These checks will allow fire and rescue services to understand and mitigate risk, to protect their colleagues and the public, and support high standards of integrity. How and where these are used are at the discretion of each individual fire and rescue authority.

The changes follow recent findings in His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) report, commissioned by the Crime, Policing and Fire Minister, as well as the London Fire Brigade’s independent review into its own culture, which found evidence of bullying, harassment and discrimination across the services.

Fire minister Chris Philp said:

Fire reform is urgently needed, and this is a step in the right direction to help raise overall standards and ensure the integrity of fire and rescue services.

We want to see a service where everyone is welcome and treated with respect.

Stringent criminal record checks will help ensure staff and the public are better protected and is an important part of the change that now needs to happen.

The government will support this work with the creation of new guidance by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), in partnership with the DBS, to help ensure appropriate checks are undertaken. This guidance will be consulted on by the NFCC shortly.

This change forms just one part of work ongoing to secure consistently high standards of integrity across fire and rescue services. Steps taken to date include commissioning the inspectorate report referenced above, funding the first ever fire culture conference through the NFCC, supporting the creation of a code of ethics, and funding Fire Standards on matters such as ethics and safeguarding.